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Amendment would give public access to Congressional research

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Amendment would give public access to Congressional research 02/09/98 WASHINGTON, D.C.--A rules amendment that would allow public access to Congressional…

Amendment would give public access to Congressional research

02/09/98

WASHINGTON, D.C.–A rules amendment that would allow public access to Congressional Research Service materials on the Internet was formally introduced in early February in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

In mid-December, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced his plan to introduce the amendment to make general reports issued by CRS available online. Currently, much of the information is available only by making a request through a member of Congress. Materials to be made available on the Internet include issue and legislative briefs as well as analyses that describe each authorization and appropriation bill and indicate the allocation of funds.

“Taxpayers have footed the bill for these high-quality, detailed public policy and research reports for years and deserve access to their contents. In making this information readily available, constituents will have access to documents widely used for congressional decision-making,” McCain said in a news release.

Originally the amendment allowed a 60-day time lag between the time information is given to Congress and when it would be posted online. McCain said he reduced the time to 30 days in response to objections from critics. Several press groups lobbying Congress to pass the rule change, however, want to reduce the delay even further so citizens can more effectively monitor issues under consideration by Congress. The organizations would also like to amend a provision that gives the CRS director sole authority to determine what material should be excluded for confidentiality reasons. (Amendments to House Rule 3131 and Senate Rule 1578)